In August 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a proposal by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requiring that all new heavy-duty vehicles manufactured in the U.S. be equipped with a device to limit their maximum speeds. The rule would apply to all trucks, buses and other multipurpose passenger vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating exceeding 26,000 pounds. Maximum speeds of 60, 65 and 68 mph (miles per hour) have been discussed, but the public has also been invited to comment on the www.regulations.gov website. According to the two Administrations, the rule would save lives and reduce fuel usage, emissions and costs.¹
If implemented, this new rule would cap maximum speeds electromechanically instead of by a federal statute mandating adherence to a posted maximum speed limit. Companies and drivers would be responsible for maintaining proper functioning of the governing device.
The rule would appear to affect truck speeds west of the Mississippi River more than in the East. The West, with long open highway stretches where posted speed limits for all vehicles range as high as 80 mph, is a more logical target for the new rule. As older commercial vehicles were retired, on western highways all commercial vehicle movement would transition from the current stream fragmented by slower and faster vehicles to convoy mode at steady speed. The new mode would more closely resemble travel in the East, where congestion, terrain, weather and speed limits generally restrict truck speeds to 65 mph or less.
¹CMCA (Colorado Motor Carriers Association); Hot Sheet; August 30, 2016; “U.S. DOT PROPOSES SPEED LIMITERS FOR LARGE COMMERCIAL VEHICLES”